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Virginia Mason Medical Center Interview

31 Questions and Answers by
| Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.

Question 1 of 31

What type of work environment do you dislike working in?

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Virginia Mason Medical Center Interview Questions


  1. What type of work environment do you dislike working in?
    • Are you pretty flexible in your ability to work in most environments? Have you experienced a position where the atmosphere wasn't conducive to your productivity? Be sure to know the type of situation offered in this position prior, to the interview. If you aren't completely clear on the workplace environment or culture, kindly ask the interviewer to expand on the work environment for you.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I can be productive in most work environments, so long as the mentality is positive and teamwork is encouraged. I cannot work in an environment that feels negative or toxic."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I prefer to focus on the positive, so if it's okay, I would like to share with you what my ideal work environment looks like. My ideal environment is organized, collaborative, positive, energetic, and encouraging. I love working with like-minded people who set challenging goals for themselves. I thrive when I work for supervisors who encourage curiosity and creativity in problem-solving."


  1. What is your greatest weakness?
    • Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.

      Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and Word. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!"

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I know this will come off as cliche, but it's truthful. My weakness is in not delegating. I know what I want to be done and how I want it done, so it's often easier to do it myself. However, it can inhibit my ability to grow. I cannot take on every step of a project; I need to be able to give the task or a portion of it to another team member or direct report, let go of the control and know it will be taken care of. I've spoken with my current manager about it, and we've developed a system where he can call me out on the behavior since often I'm not aware of it. By bringing awareness to it at the moment, I find my propensity to hold onto control has decreased, so I'm certainly moving in the right direction."


  1. At Virginia Mason Medical Center, we have strong outreach care programs available to patients in rural locations. Have you participated in outreach before in your career?
    • As an organization, Virginia Mason Medical Center believes strongly in providing outreach through a few different avenues. They provide respite care to the homeless population around the Seattle area and they have their Access Northwest program that provides specialty care services to community clinic patients. If you have direct experience working in an outreach type of setting, be sure to bring that up to your interviewer. If you don't, be sure to expand on why these types of programs are important. To really nail this question, give your interviewer the impression that you are open to opportunities to provide outreach care if it is warranted in the job you are interviewing for.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "During my time working in Orthopedic Surgery, the surgeon I operated with did outreach to some smaller Oregon clinics that had operating capabilities for minor procedures. I really liked the travel aspect of the job to be able to meet other remote clinic colleagues as well as being able to meet the needs of patients that would have likely gone without their procedures because of travel to our home hospital. The patients in these locations were often the most grateful for our services and that always brought a big smile to my face."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "Patient care is a top priority and I'd be proud to work for an organization that prioritizes outreach opportunities for patients that might otherwise receive the care that they need. While I haven't been a part of any efforts to this point in my career, do the Nurse Practitioners in Oncology typically have any outreach duties to outlying clinics or facilities? I would definitely be open to anything that would arise in the future if hired for this position."


  1. If you could expand your knowledge and expertise in any healthcare service area, which would you choose?
    • There are many facets of health care. If you could choose any area of healthcare to specialize in, which would you choose? Be sure to tie your answer into some aspects of what Virginia Mason Medical Center does.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "If I could choose any area of healthcare services to be a subject matter expert in, I would choose geriatric care. I do feel that this particular focus is not as popular as some, and become an expert in it would allow me to snowball in my career."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I have a variety of interests within healthcare service, so that is a tough question for me! I suppose if I had to narrow it to just one area of expertise, I would say palliative care and the necessary family care that comes with it."


  1. In your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver?
    • Employers want to know that you have a methodical approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I am a great problem solver because I do not allow stress to cloud my judgment and mute my sound decision making. I am a keen observer with a great memory which allows me to recall unique solutions or ideas."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I believe I am a great problem solver because I am sure to gather as many facts as possible, I look at the problem and its potential solutions from multiple angles, and I am not afraid to make a creative decision that might seem off the beaten path."


  1. With the ongoing changes in the healthcare services industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?
    • Employers expect employees to stay up-to-date on their respective field, and today's technology makes this reasonably easy! List several ways that you receive your industry knowledge and stay on top of trends.

      Tell the interviewer about those daily update emails you receive from professional organizations, conferences you attend, and seminars you have taken.

      Lastly, it's a great idea to ask the interviewer what resources they refer to for industry trends. That question can start up a great conversation, and you may learn a thing or two as well.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "Every morning I listen to X Podcast because I find the information to be fresh, and valuable. In addition to this podcast, I also subscribe to a couple of industry blogs. One is ABC, and the other is XYZ. I greatly value the information shared between fellow professionals. What resources do you prefer to stay on top of industry trends and changes?"

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I am an avid fan of google alerts! I will receive an email with the related information any time there is a major headline about the healthcare services industry. In addition to this, I also subscribe to a couple of medical-related journals."


  1. At Virginia Mason Medical Center we seek to hire individuals who display a keen interest in the healthcare arena. Would you consider yourself dedicated to a career in healthcare services?
    • Assure the interviewer that you are dedicated to a lucrative career in the healthcare services industry. The hiring manager would like to know that this position fits into your long-term plan and that, if hired, you would stay with Virginia Mason Medical Center as long as possible.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "My entire career has been dedicated to the healthcare services field. I find it incredibly rewarding and interesting because I get to help others and every day brings new challenges! One of the reasons I applied for this role with Virginia Mason Medical Center is because I can see a long-term fit here. I plan to work in the healthcare segment for my entire career."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I know this career can take a toll on personal life, and I understand that while it can be more-or-less sustainable, it's more than just a job for me. So far, I have dedicated my entire adult life to this career. I have shadowed numerous professionals and have worked multiple clinics. I know this is the right career for me."

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  1. Tell me about yourself.
    • Take a few minutes to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself. You can begin with your recent education, family life, volunteer work, or talk about your travels. Bring up anything that is interesting and highlights your ability to be a responsible, reliable, and bright individual.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "A bit about me - I love to travel, read, and conduct research. I am a recent grad from Columbia University and have spent the past 12 months traveling the world. It was the best experience that I could have given myself as I was able to learn so much from seeing how the rest of the world lives. I returned to the US just last month and had been actively looking for work the past couple of weeks. I am looking forward to getting into the routine of a career again."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last eight years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit. Being newer to my career in healthcare services, my biggest goal as of late has to take as many related courses and workshops as possible. I am eager to get a great start on my career."


  1. What do you know about Virginia Mason Medical Center's community improvement efforts? Why do you feel these things are important to the greater community we operate in?
    • Virginia Mason Medical Center puts a great deal of resources and effort into great community health improvement projects like health education, nutrition education, fitness initiatives and projects that extend internationally as well. For this question, make sure to research some of the efforts that the organization takes part in and speak to the one's that hit close to home for you in talking about their importance. If you've taken part in any community health initiatives in the past, be sure to bring up the details of what your participation entailed. As well, talk a bit about the greater health of the community and the impact that can have.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "During my five years working as a Dialysis Technician, I have assisted in diabetes education classes for both newly diagnosed patients and for community awareness seminars that my organization has put on. As part of the team, I have spoken about the dialysis process and what patients can expect as far as their dialysis treatment goes. For both the patient and community education seminars, my input was always well received and important. Programs like this are important because a lot of diseases and illnesses have very negative stigmas in the general public's eye and by simply educating people, these stigmas are negated. I'd look forward to working on any diabetes related education initiatives with your organization."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I have a first hand experience on how effective community health initiative programs can be. My brother in law was facing some severe health problems due to obesity and his motivation to finally turn things around came from nutrition and cooking classes that were offered by a local healthcare organization. While his family and friends could talk until they were blue in the face, being among others in his situation and hearing professionals talk about the benefits of healthy eating and being shown how to cook healthy meals were the turning point for him. Seeing the effect a simple program had on him, I'm a true believer in community health efforts."


  1. Virginia Mason Medical Center has a diverse workforce. When have you worked amongst a diverse group of people?
    • Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity. Even better, give an example of being able to embrace diversity in the workplace.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers me unique learning opportunities."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I am so glad you pointed out your need for diversity at Virginia Mason Medical Center. I greatly value diversity. I grew up in a fairly homogeneous town in Montana. When I hit my 20's, it was so important to me to learn about other cultures. I worked with community volunteer organizations in Peru, inner-city Chicago, and Russia."


  1. Tell me about your healthcare related education and training.
    • Take a few minutes to walk the interviewer through your formal post-secondary education as well as any on the job training. Talk about your most positive take-away's from your post-secondary experience and be sure to tie in how that experience will help you succeed in this position.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have a nursing degree as well as additional on the job training within clinical research. I feel that my nursing education opened up many potential industry-related avenues for me. I graduated top of my class and completed a valuable internship with 'XYZ Health Services'. All of these experiences have helped prepare me for success in this role with Virginia Mason Medical Center."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I did my undergraduate in chemistry and medical school at St. George's University. I loved surgery, so my electives were in general surgery, trauma epidemiology, and orthopedics. I'm happy to be moving on to more responsibility as a resident. I have had some amazing mentors, and I found that I could perform with some different teaching styles."


  1. At Virginia Mason Medical Center we seek to hire individuals who have ambitions of growing their career. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
    • Every hiring manager would like to know that their investment of time and training will pay off. Assure the interviewer that you see this position as a long-term fit. How does this role with Virginia Mason Medical Center fit into your longer-term plans?

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "In 3-5 years I would like to see my career with Virginia Mason Medical Center include a path towards a leadership role. I am very keen on paving a long-term career in the healthcare services realm and would love the opportunity to do that here."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "One of the attractive points of working for Virginia Mason Medical Center is that you care about the growth of your employees. I'm motivated to learn and am looking for a long-term fit. In 3-5 years I'd like to be grounded in the clinic, learn about this site, your patient base and earn certifications that would help the unit advance. Personally, I'd like to get involved in some of the local volunteer organizations. I speak Spanish, and I have an interest in urban outreach so it would be nice to do something formal in that or fundraising."


  1. Do you prefer to work in a team based position or individually?
    • In which situation are you the happiest and most productive? Talk to the interviewer about your preference when it comes to teamwork or working individually. Be sure to avoid pigeonholing yourself into one particular scenario (IE: I only like to work by myself). You may work well without the need for much management or direction, or perhaps you are better driven in a collaborative and team led environment. Either way, be honest with the interviewer about your preferences without leaning negatively, either way.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "Whether I am doing an independent project, or working in a team environment, I always give my best. I enjoy the camaraderie of working in a team, but I can be successful working autonomously as well."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I have found, in the past, that I work well in an individually driven environment; however, I can certainly be productive in a team-based setting as well."


  1. What are some ways that you would say that you work efficiently and why is this important?
    • As part of Virginia Mason Medical Center's Virginia Mason Production System, the organization strives to take measures to eliminate waste and inefficiencies in their work processes to allow their employees more direct time with patients to talk, listen and treat them. In your answer to this question, talk about efficiencies that you have developed in your work that allow you more face to face contact time with your patients and talk about why this is important in the job that you perform. Gear your efficiencies towards administrative tasks and other tasks that take you away from direct patient care.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "Working as a nurse in the Home Health setting, being efficient started with my own personal organization to start and end each day to ensure that I was spending enough quality time with patients on action packed days in the field. This organization started with detailed planning for the day and ensuring I had all of the supplies needed each day. This prevented potential unnecessary running for supplies. Organization also included following up on emails and charting, which I blocked away time for at least every other day when making out my visit schedule. While knowing these things were important, dedicating time to these duties was important so I could still have ample time with each patient's home visit."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "In the lab setting, things can get quite hectic at my current job so staying efficient starts with a clean and organized work area. Where I've seen many Medical Lab Techs not prioritize a clean and clutter free work area is where I've witnessed failure to be efficient, so I take the time to maintain organization in our lab and my work area. Efficiency in my work also comes from staying on top of new orders and not letting work pile up. As in any lab setting, the workload can fluctuate and all of a sudden an order that is procrastinated gets at the bottom of a very large pile of high priority orders. This isn't fair to the ordering physician or the patient that could be awaiting life altering results."


  1. Do you think it is possible to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader?
    • The interviewer wants to know that you can be diplomatic in the workplace, even when you may not agree with your leader.

      Show the interviewer that it is possible for you to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader from time to time. Explain that you believe everyone is entitled to their own professional opinion, yet capable of maintaining respect for each other at the same time.

      Show that even if you disagree with the final decision they make, you support the direction the team is heading.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I think that it is possible to be a great team member, even when disagreeing with the leader. It's all in how you maintain respect for each other despite the difference in opinion."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I believe that being a good team member is more about attitude than it is about compatibility. You do not need to agree with everyone 100% of the time, to be effective in your job."


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